MILLIONS of pounds a year is being spent on private hospital treatment by a cash-strapped NHS trust.
Bosses at the trust which runs Pinderfields Hospital say paying private healthcare firms to carry out treatment is standard practice - but have pledged to cut the spending.
At least £4m was spent in the private sector last year, according to figures published by Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust. The cash went to private hospitals and firms carrying out scans and X-rays to help ease waiting lists.
For the same period, figures from the Primary Care Trust, NHS Wakefield District, show more than £2.5m was paid for private hospital treatment for patients who opted not to have surgery in the NHS under government ‘patient choice’ guidelines.
A report presented to Mid Yorkshire’s last board meeting said the amount of work being done in the private sector was higher than planned.
The report said: “This level of productivity is not financially sustainable and will become a significant cost pressure if it was to continue.”
Angie Watson, deputy chief executive at the trust, said: “To enable patients to receive their treatment as quickly as possible, a small proportion of patients requiring planned procedures have had their NHS treatment undertaken in local private hospitals.
“We continue to work with our local partners on ways to reduce emergency care demand on our hospitals, and would expect to see our use of private hospitals reduce as a consequence of these initiatives.”
Andy Leary, the PCT’s director of finance, said NHS Wakefield District was committed to offer patients choice. He said: “We work positively with a variety of service providers in order to ensure the best possible care is made available to local people.”